seder plate

Today is the beginning of Passover, a Jewish holiday commemorating the Israelites’ freedom from slavery in Egypt. I’m not Jewish, but I’ll be having Passover Seder with feminist friends who have kindly included me and a bunch of other folks they have designated “Jews, almost-Jews, and People-I-Secretly-Think-of-as-Jews” (unclear if I’m in category B or C). I’m looking forward to it because hey, matzoh ball soup is the best and good friends are better, and the Seder organizer’s traditional Jewish prayer is the greatest (“They tried to kill us again. It didn’t work. Let’s eat.”).

There are some great feminist writings about Passover and the Haggadah; this one is a long-time favorite. What are you all doing this evening?

19 comments for “Passover

  1. April 18, 2011 at 9:44 am

    What are you all doing this evening?

    Writing boring papers because I unfortunately don’t have any Jewish friends. =( Or maybe I do, and I don’t know they are Jewish?

  2. Aaron
    April 18, 2011 at 9:53 am

    I’ve left behind the Jewish faith I was raised with, but I still love Passover (it was always my favorite holiday).

    I’ll take a moment tonight to remember the most moving words from the Haggadah I grew up with (paraphrased): Thou shall not oppress the stranger in your land, for you were a stranger in Egypt. The Torah says “you” not “they” to remind us that the oppression of one is the oppression of all.

    I’ll also probably pour a few drops from my cup tonight to remind myself (again paraphrasing the Haggadah) that for each plague the cup of joy is lessened because the suffering of any reduces the joy of all.

  3. April 18, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Thank you for highlighting my post. Seeing it here on Feministe (one of my favorite sites) makes me really miss blogging. Tonight I will be hosting my very first Feminist Seder. I moved several states away from my immediate family a few years ago and making it back on a Monday night is impossible. Instead, I hope tonight will allow me to celebrate with new family and friends as we share in delicious food, lots of wine, and the story of Passover (with a feminist and egalitarian twist of course). Rather than spending days prepping food as my mom and grandmother used to, we spent hours upon hours gardening over the weekend – after all, Passover is a time of new birth, growth, and liberation. I am very much looking forward to tonight, a chance to remember my own history of oppression and remind myself and others that oppression is still very real in our society today, and we don’t have to look far to see it.

  4. shah8
    April 18, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Oddly enough, even though I know that you’re not, I do have a vague association of you with jewishness.

    Now I’m wondering how that happened…

  5. April 18, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    I am not Jewish, but I have good friends who are. Though Passover specifically celebrates the liberation of the Jewish people from bondage, it’s an important holiday to Christians, too.
    Today is the second day of Holy Week, which will end with Easter on Sunday. Jesus, himself a Jew, arrived in Jerusalem during Passover. The Last Supper either was the Passover seder or took place at some point during the holiday.

    Moreover, the imagery and symbolism of liberation from slavery is also important to people of color. It found its way into the Negro spiritual “Go Down Moses”.

  6. Brennan
    April 18, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    I’ll be presenting my senior capstone along with all the other bio majors at my school. It’s not a problem for me, but a good friend of mine who’s Jewish and also has to be there is pretty ticked off about missing Seder. Add to that that her parents are organizing a Seder and therefore have to miss what’s probably the second biggest deal of our college career (with the biggest being graduation). I don’t know why it had to be this week–next Monday would have been perfect. I suspect that the faculty simply didn’t think about it.

  7. April 18, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    I will be busy writing up a bullshit assignment and wishing I could be doing anything else. :) I will console myself with the knowledge that other people are having a good time.

    Brennan: I don’t know why it had to be this week–next Monday would have been perfect.

    Easter Monday is probably why. Doesn’t make it right though – there are other days in the week.

  8. Lori
    April 18, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    I’m not doing anything special tonight, as I’m not Jewish, but you made me laugh because many of my friends are Jewish and they tell me all the time “you’re basically Jewish” or “I always forget that you’re not Jewish.”

  9. April 18, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Jill, I hope you enjoy the Seder!

    I’ll be in church this evening, participating in the reading of the Gospel of Mark.

    I was born and raised Jewish and participated (and even led) in many a Passover Seder. Some of the Seders were done with various feminist Haggadot floating around the Jewish feminist community. The association between Passover and Easter in my mind is intense, especially given that Jesus, the apostles, and many of the early followers of Christ were Jewish.

    I’ll probably also listen to Massive Attack’s “Babel” over and over again, because it’s become a freakin’ ear-worm.

    One small point: by “Haggah”, you mean Haggadah, yes?

  10. April 18, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    Lori: “I always forget that you’re not Jewish.”

    This reminds me of a time one of my friends and I were playing a board game and halfway through she remembered that I couldn’t read Mandarin.

  11. April 18, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    I’ll be at a potluck seder with a bunch of other friends from synagogue. Tomorrow night my husband and I are hosting one. It will be glorious. We spent the past week cleaning our house pretty much every minute we could find, and yesterday cleaned a whole bunch more. After cleaning, we cooked until midnight. But it will be totally worth it to sit down with a bunch of interesting people to have a talk about what it means to be freed from slavery.

  12. April 18, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    I’m not Jewish, at least not directly (my ancestors were forced into Catholicism long ago — I guess this puts me in category B? ), or even religious at all, but I love stories like this one on how women merge their faith with their feminism.

  13. Tabitha Rose
    April 18, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    I am Jewish, but we’re of the lazy non-religious cultural Reform Judaism type, so no seder in our house…

    Oh well, G-d forgives, right? :)

  14. Lucy Gillam
    April 18, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    Right now I’m trying to get a very hyped-up not-quite-four-year-old to sleep after her first seder. She “found” the afikomen (meaning the older kids helped her find it ;).

  15. Bushfire
    April 18, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    These descriptions of Passover sound wonderful. I’ve never felt that warm and fuzzy about Easter.

  16. WestEndGirl
    April 19, 2011 at 11:31 am

    I had a rather eye-opening first night Seder last night with SO’s extended family/friend network – 32 people! It was interesting, particularly as it was a mixed group (Sephardi/Ashkenazi/Mizrahi) to was a bit of a bun-fight over which tunes to sing and a great mix of traditions including mixing the Ten Plagues wine with water to show that we are not revelling in the blood suffering of our oppressors. It was nice to see that Mah Nishtanah (the Four Questions, which aren’t, in fact questions) was all sung with one tune – no arguing!

    Tonight sees just my small extended family (including Syrian refugee Dad, Ashkenazi Mum, spiritualist Kabbalist sister, lapsed Church of England BiL and semi-Jewish niecelette currently attending a Church school and slightly confused by it all) having a small, but fast, singalong and a discussion around slavery based on the SJ charities Haggadah companion

    I must say, however, that I find the refocusing of this post by some commenters from the Jewish Festival of Passover and how it is being celebrated, to its significance to Christians and Easter, a little problematic to say this least.

  17. Bloix
    April 23, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    Jill, you’re probably long gone, but if you’re still around to read this you should know that the post you’ve linked to repeats an urban legend that has been repudiated as offensive by the originator of the orange-on-the-seder-plate, the theologian and religious studies professor Susannah Heschel. To read the true story, see

  18. April 24, 2011 at 12:19 am

    @ Bloix

    I’m totally clueless about Passover and seder plates so I’m not sure if I’m missing something, but what is the difference in the information between the two links? I don’t want to pass on the wrong information, but they seem to refer to the same story and I’m not sure what part has been repudiated. From both links I got that a crust of bread was initially put forward, Heschel switched it up for an orange as a better symbol, and that there was an issue with the initial crust of bread thing being attributed to a male rabbi instead of to the feminists who actually suggested it.

  19. Bloix
    April 26, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    Jadey – Jill’s link is fine and I am an idiot. Not that that’s news to anyone who knows me well –

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